1930s >> 1935 >> no-373-september-1935

The Green Line Strike

 

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On Thursday, July 25th, employees of the London Passenger Transport Board’s Green Line coaches at Windsor and Slough agreed to strike in protest against speed-up schedules of duty and against too much discrimination in wages between Green Line conductors and the ‘bus conductors on the same routes.

 

The Transport Board replied that they would have to wait to have the matter considered until September, when the directors of the Board returned from their holidays.

 

On the following Saturday morning many other garages joined the strike, bringing the number of strikers up to nearly three thousand. The strike was still, however, quite unofficial, and the Transport and General Workers’ Union took up a definitely hostile attitude, advising the men to resume work and let their grievances be settled by means of the existing machinery. Later that day the Board announced that if the men had not returned to work by Monday they could consider themselves dismissed. By Monday morning the men were back at work.

 

A controversy arose, in which Mr. Bevin criticised not only the minority movement for interfering with the running of union matters, but also Herbert Morrison, the Labour Party’s ardent advocate of Public Utility Boards such as London Transport. At the time when Mr. Morrison was making his stand in the House of Commons we maintained that the rationalisation of transport in London would by no means improve the position of the transport workers. But Mr. Morrison, turning a blind eye on the class struggle, continued to urge legislation which could—and did—result only in the bringing together of the transport owners in one united force opposed to the transport workers.

 

During the last few weeks a spate of strikes among the ‘bus and coach workers against rigid discipline, speeding up and low wages, has amply vindicated our claim that the Public Utility Boards, which the Labour Party holds up to admiration as measures of “Socialism,” are no more than tools to intensify and to mask capitalist exploitation.

 

The attitude of the Union was unheroic; apparently the leaders wish at all costs to avoid trouble; they expressed no sympathy with the workers in their bad conditions, but merely begged them to return to work and “let things be done decently and in order.” However necessary discipline may be in a union, and however “illegal” a lightning transport strike may be, an organisation which claims to fight the workers’ battles can rightly be expected to manifest sympathy with, and understanding of, such expressions of the class struggle. In the recent strike, however, the Union simply played into the hands of the bosses.

 

Modern Trade Union leaders show no inclination to emulate the Tolpuddle Martyrs. No doubt Mr. Morrison will offer to the workers at the next election a programme teeming with Public Utility Boards.

D.S.

 

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